San Antonio, Do We Have a Problem?

How New Codes Force Decisions in Preparing Multi-tenant Commercial Properties

San Anto­nio pub­lished a tech­ni­cal bul­letin last year that states that all mul­ti-ten­ant build­ings must have the insu­la­tion installed at shell phase (sin­gle ten­ant build­ings do not). Oth­er munic­i­pal­i­ties may go the same direc­tion as San Anto­nio.

One con­cern we have been hear­ing from quite a few archi­tect and engi­neer con­tacts recent­ly is the con­cern over insu­lat­ing retail build­ings to the 2015 IECC ener­gy codes. Many times, these mul­ti-ten­ant retail devel­op­ments are designed and built before the prop­er­ty has been ful­ly leased. They may have an anchor ten­ant in mind, but much of the build­ing may be spec­u­la­tive. In the past, devel­op­ers were able to build a cold dark shell” build­ing and wait for a ten­ant to sign up for a lease in order to fin­ish the ten­ant improve­ments (TI) of the inte­ri­or (inte­ri­or walls, sheetrock, paint, light­ing, elec­tri­cal, etc.). How­ev­er, with the new build­ing code it may become a man­date to have the insu­la­tion installed at the shell build­ing phase rather than leav­ing it to the ten­ant phase.

This com­plex­i­ty in tim­ing is mak­ing it dif­fi­cult for devel­op­ers because it moves more cost ear­li­er in the project, and caus­es them to install parts of the inte­ri­or walls and elec­tri­cal pri­or to know­ing who is going to be in the space and how they are going to want it fin­ished out.

Projects con­struct­ed using CMU or con­crete tilt pan­el would require insu­la­tion on the out­side of the wall dur­ing ini­tial con­struc­tion (which is not as com­mon in Texas). Oth­er­wise con­trac­tors would have to fig­ure out a way to install the con­tin­u­ous insu­la­tion sys­tem on the inside and meet fire code require­ments. Usu­al­ly, this would mean that the sheetrock (fire igni­tion bar­ri­er) is installed over the insu­la­tion, which is some­thing build­ing own­ers want to avoid until they have a ten­ant ready to take the space.

The cost of build­ing two walls for CMU and con­crete tilt is a seri­ous issue for that type of con­struc­tion in retail. One struc­tur­al engi­neer in San Anto­nio who does a lot of con­crete tilt design says that for retail build­ings, tilt pan­el is going to get phased out.

Mul­ti-ten­ant retail devel­op­ments con­tin­ue to piqué the inter­est of investors and devel­op­ers for their flex­i­bil­i­ty of use, as well as for less invest­ment volatil­i­ty. How­ev­er, with more strin­gent build­ing codes in place, tra­di­tion­al wall sys­tems such as tilt-up would require addi­tion­al expense and time to meet code require­ments. The Bau­tex Block Wall Sys­tem is an all-in-one solu­tion for cost, con­struc­tion time, struc­ture, fire resis­tance, and con­tin­u­ous insu­la­tion. There are no addi­tion­al instal­la­tion steps to meet the new ener­gy codes and ten­ants are allowed the same flex­i­bil­i­ty to fin­ish the inside of the wall as they see fit. Devel­op­ers also appre­ci­ate a wall sys­tem that allows them to fol­low busi­ness-as-usu­al with mul­ti-ten­ant build­ings.